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Clotting Factor Deficiencies: Care Instructions

Blood vessel

Your Care Instructions

Clotting factors are substances in the blood that help stop bleeding after a cut or injury. They also prevent sudden bleeding. In people who have clotting factor problems, the clotting factors don't work right or, in some cases, are missing. When blood does not clot well, even minor injuries can cause serious bleeding. This can lead to blood loss, injury to internal organs, or damage to muscles or joints.

Several conditions, including hemophilia, can make it hard for the blood to clot. Your doctor can treat you by giving you replacement clotting factors. You also may take medicine to prevent bleeding. You may often have clotting factors transfused into a vein to prevent bleeding, or you may get them as needed. You may eventually learn to do this at home. You can also try to prevent injuries that can cause you to bleed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Stay at a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, the additional stress on joints can trigger bleeding.
  • Exercise safely. Avoid contact sports. Swim or walk to avoid excess pressure on your joints. Check with your doctor before doing activities that put you at high risk for falls, such as riding a bike.
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily. This may help you avoid problems that could lead to having a tooth pulled.
  • Avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). They can increase the chance of bleeding.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Take care to prevent injuries at home:
    • Make sure rugs are tacked down so you do not slip.
    • Keep furniture with sharp edges out of pathways.
    • Use non-skid floor wax.
    • Wipe up spills quickly.
    • If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, sprinkle salt on steps and sidewalks.
    • Avoid loose-fitting shoes. You might lose your balance and fall.
  • Wear medical alert jewellery that lists your clotting problem.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have signs of severe bleeding, which includes:
    • You have a severe headache that is different from past headaches.
    • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
    • Your stools are maroon or very bloody.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have abnormal bleeding, such as:
    • A nosebleed that you can't easily stop. This means it's still bleeding after pressure has been applied for 15 minutes.
    • Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
    • You have blood in your urine.
    • You have joint pain.
    • You have bruises or blood spots under your skin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.